Review: DCS M2000-C by Razbam Simulations
Updated: 2 days ago
Entering early access in December 2015, the Mirage quickly established itself as one of the best dogfighters in DCS' competitive environment. Having one of the most polished flight models in the game, it also provides more than great Beyond and Within Visual Range (BVR and WVR) combat capabilities as well as some ground-pounding potential.
In this review we will be taking a look into several different parts of the module and evaluating if this beautiful French lady is a fit for you. These points will be divided in several sections:
External and internal 3D models
Visual and sound effects
Ease of use and learning curve
Single player content
Is this aircraft for you?
This review was initially published on the 14th of August, 2020. Minor revision: 20th of February, 2021. Screenshot overhaul and content revision: 6th of August, 2022.
EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL 3D MODELS
Externally, the Mirage has got to have one of the most recognizable airframes out there, mainly due to the very similar shape it has kept ever since the Mirage III came out in the 1960's. Razbam, thankfully, has done it justice with this module by giving it a very gorgeous exterior and interior which are full with detail everywhere you can look.
Exterior-wise this module boasts a very appealing model that is full of detail, complex curves of the Mirage show all their grace. All the animations, such as the intake shock cones movement or the flight surface movement while taxiing, are fluid and give the plane a bit of life. For the rivet-counters out there, this model should be a feast for the eyes.
COMMITMENT TO DETAILS
From the inner side of the turkey feathers on the engine to the emergency canopy release handle, the work that went into getting these very easily overlooked details shows that Razbam researched this aircraft to a very high degree, which is commendable.
Interior-wise this module can only be described as gorgeous. It received a major update in late 2019 and several minor once since, all of which aimed at keeping it up to date with the Mirages then-currently in service with the Armée de l'Air (AdA). This included the addition of a Night Vision Goggle (NVG) mount along with a rework on how the NVGs worked in the module, an updated radio panel and an ECM annunciator on the right side of the dash.
The way the annunciator lights shine gives them a very believable feel, a feel that is exacerbated by the flood lights reflecting off the surfaces and screens. I'll take my hat off and applaud Razbam's work, they really did well in this regard.
EDIT 02/20/2021: There is another model that I forgot to mention in the first revision of this review, that being the VR pilot model. Since I mostly fly without the pilot model to make it easier for myself to click around the cockpit I had not noticed the detail that the pilot model has. This must be a treat for those who fly VR, very well done. EDIT 08/06/2022: Up-to-date pictures have been added. These represent the current state of the module, which is still gorgeous. The cockpit has changed a lot as it evolved alongside the one used by the AdA, but now that the type has been officially retired, I do not expect any more major changes to be done to it.
VISUAL AND SOUND EFFECTS
Apart from being well modeled, this module also has some of the best looking visual effects out there; on par with the Viper and the Hornet. When at a high AoA scenario, the amount of vapor that's produced by the vortex generators, the inner corner of the leading edge and the massive clouds that form above the wing left me speechless the first time I saw them. These are the kinds of details that make a module feel alive.
Sound-wise the M2000 has a very distinctly sounding engine that gives the pilot a lot of feedback, at least while you are on the ground. In the air the engine's sound is not as clear as it is on the ground due to the extremely loud noise generated by the wind hitting your canopy. Don't get me wrong, I like the realism aspect that comes with the reduced auditory feedback that the engine gives at high speed but, and this is my personal opinion, sometimes it is better to sacrifice some realism to improve usability. I know that you can enable the "loud afterburner" option in the menu but I write these reviews in function of a unhampered experience, with default options. As I put it in one of my earliest reviews, the one I wrote about the F-5E-3
Other modules such as the AJS-37 "Viggen" give you a very distinct engine sound when your aircraft goes into afterburner at the cost of realism. We as players need that feedback since we cannot feel the vibrations of the engine or the rumble of the wheels.
Overall, sound design is very solid in this module but as always I will let you, the reader, be your own judge in this regard as this category can be very subjective:
1. Engine while on ground: ( Idle-->Full Afterburner-->Idle ):
2. Engine while in-flight @450 kts: (Idle-->Full Power-->Idle)
3. Fly-by at +550 knots, full afterburner: (Volume warning)
Over every other category, this is the one that makes the Mirage shine. It has the best-feeling flight model currently in DCS, period. From the buffeting at low speed to the highly responsive flight controls, this flight model truthfully represents what I have heard from real Mirage pilots.
This bird excels in a dogfight thanks to the advantages of the delta wing design, these being good nose authority at high AoA and stellar low speed performance characteristics. She is a fierce dogfighter and she knows it.
The way that the Fly-by-Wire system (FBW) is programmed here gives you very precise control over the aircraft making it feel snappy and responsive while keeping you, the pilot, away from a deadly stall. Unlike some of the other aircraft that have FBW, this one feels less restrictive.
It has two modes: Charges and A/A.
Charges will limit your maneuverability to a mere 5.5G, and your roll rate to 150°/sec. This mode is to be used when you are heavily loaded, as the name implies.
A/A mode will raise the amount of Gs you can pull to 9Gs and roll rate to 270°/sec, which is immensely useful during a close range combat scenario.
It is difficult to put into words the feeling of flying the Mirage, but if I had to describe it briefly I would have to say that after I flew it the only other plane that could match its snappiness was the F-16CM, but even it lacks that spark that puts this French marvel above everything else.
It does have some quirks that you will have to get used to such as the slow engine response time which can make air to air refueling a bit tricky at first. Once you get used to it, though, that is when you will learn to appreciate this beast for what it is.
Even though the Mirage is capable both A/A and A/G missions, it truly shines in the air to air role thanks to its design as a capable dogfighter and interceptor. It is able of operating independently without the direct aid of either a Ground Control Intercept (GCI) station or an AWACS due to its capable radar. Operational range is not a problem as long as you conserve your fuel or, alternatively, have a tanker at your disposal.
LIMITED BVR CAPABILITIES
It has the same limitations as some of the Russian aircraft present in FC3, this being the lack of any actively guided missiles (Fox-3 type). While the Super 530 is a great semi-active missile (Fox-1 type) it does lack active guidance. This limits your capabilities in an engagement as you will have to keep the target locked all the way to impact, so no fire and forget.
Doing precision bombing on the Mirage will be a bit tricky considering that you do not have any targeting pod (TGP) at your disposal. Guiding GBUs will be the job of either a JTAC or a friendly aircraft equipped with a TGP, so better be prepared to communicate a lot in order to get those lasers where you need them and when you need them.
That being said, low level bombing can be done very effectively on the Mirage. Dropping either BLU-66 canisters or Mk.82 Snake eyes on a target while going as fast as possible can be one of the most rewarding things you could do on the Mirage.
AIR TO GROUND RADAR
Added not so long ago, this radar does expand the air to ground capabilities of the Mirage by quite a bit. It is relatively simple to use and offers basic targeting, terrain mapping and terrain avoidance modes!
It is not going to turn the Mirage into an amazing ground pounder, but it certainly does make it into a much more interesting platform for certain niche missions.
DEFA 554 30MM CANNONS
These two cannons might not fire as fast as a rotary but when they hit, they hit. Just a couple rounds should be able to annihilate most aircraft, turning them into a burning wreck.
Note: Do conserve your ammunition as you only have 125 rounds per cannon. Make them count.
MATRA R550 "MAGIC II"
As your sole option for IR-guidance, this missile has solid all-aspect guidance and relatively high maneuverability when compared to some competitors, such as the R-60 or the AIM-9P5. Overall, it is a solid missile and it should serve you well.
MATRA SUPER 530D
Just as the Magic II is your only choice for, the Super 530 is your sole option for radar guidance. Its range is average and it has above average maneuverability but with a little practice this missile becomes a deadly weapon. It is semi-active, though, so be careful not to drop your lock by accident.
Mk.82 BOMBS (SLEEK AND SNAKE EYE)
Whether you know the target's location or not, these will never fail you. The only unguided bombs that you have are these wonderful Mk.82s in both its low drag and high drag variants. You are guaranteed to have a blast when you use them, literally.
Do you want to bomb a big strip of runway or a large area full of enemy units? Then these puppies should do the trick. You have two different cluster munitions at your disposal, each with a different purpose:
BLG-66 "BELOUGA": This one was designed to quickly deal with densely populated enemy areas. They can be launched as low as 1000ft while in level flight.
BAP-100: Designed to effectively deal with enemy runways. They can be quite the asset to use early in a conflict to avoid the enemy from launching more aircraft.
GBU-SERIES (LASER GUIDED BOMBS)
Even if you are not able to guide them by yourself, having the possibility of doing pin-point strikes is always a welcome addition. You have three sizes at your disposal:
GBU-12: 500lb bomb
GBU-16: 1000lb bomb
GBU-24: 2000lb bomb
MATRA ROCKET PODS
Carrying eighteen 68mm rockets each, these pods ones are one of the most fun weapons available in the M2000-C arsenal. They are very precise and able to destroy most armored targets upon direct impact and
The Mirage has a very complete countermeasure suite on board, including both flare and chaff dispensers and an internal ECM. While not being the most powerful jammer, it should still gain you some precious seconds to get your Super 530s out of the rail. You also have the option of equip the ECLAIR pod, which would increase your countermeasure expendable stores at the cost of removing the drag chute. So, when equipping this pod, you should always take into consideration yoru mission profile and the length of your airstrips as that drag chute might come in handy on a short runway. Thanks to Butterfly 055 from the TTI server for pointing this out.
EASE OF USE AND LEARNING CURVE:
This is not a difficult aircraft to learn at first glance. The cockpit layout lends itself to being simple and easy to learn but the difficulties start to show up once you have learned how to take off and land the aircraft and you start learning the more in-depth systems such as radar modes, weapon management panels and navigation. The navigation panel on the M2000-C is not for the impatient out there, just like the Tomcat's. In order to correctly start your flight you will have to learn how to properly align your INS, which can be a bit of a daunting task for a newcomer. This is not an American aircraft and as such it comes with some quirks that you will have to learn to love, such as the solid five minutes you will have to wait to get your INS aligned after you already spent one or two more minutes imputing the coordinates into the panel.
Personally, I am one of those guys that loves learning this kind of stuff so I am not bothered by the initial shock that comes from learning these systems. But that might not be the case for a newcomer. This module is not a good first buy, that title belongs to aircraft such as the F-5E-3 or even free mods such as the MB-339 (which is now on its way to become an official module) or the wonderful A-4E-C Community mod. Rather, it is an aircraft that you should approach if you already have some experience with other NATO aircraft and want a different yet oddly familiar experience when it comes to combat and system management.
SINGLE PLAYER CONTENT
One of the most positive aspects of this module is the fact it comes not with one but with TWO single player campaigns created by one of the most respected mission creators currently in DCS, Baltic Dragon! The first of the two, which takes place on the Caucasus map, is a training oriented experience which guides the player through some of the more tedious parts of any module in an interactive way, slowly easing them into combat scenarios. Great for beginners and available for all to play, playing this campaign is a most.
The second one, only available for those who also own the Persian Gulf, takes more of a focus on the combat scenarios which play out on a fictional UAE Coup d'Etat. Playing the role of a French pilot based at the UAE as the Coup erupts, you are forced into combat with unfriendly forces. This campaign is a blast to play, even more given that it comes with custom comms outside of the DCS ATC system, a feature which is impressive to say the least.
Seeing as most modules tend to lack when it comes to single player content, these two campaigns are a breath of fresh air for any player that either does not feel ready for the multiplayer arena or for those that just want to have a short, fun session after a day of work.
IS THIS AIRCRAFT FOR YOU?
If what you want in a module is:
A powerful dogfighting platform.
Good single player content made by a very good creator.
A solid flight model that will have you coming back.
A experience that only a European fighter could give you.
If you don't mind: